As the world’s largest steel and manganese alloy producer, China holds the key to the future of the industry. In particular, the past three years have seen China’s manganese demand surge at a dramatic 25% per year. Yet understanding what is happening within the country proves difficult due to the local industry’s highly fragmented and often underreported production activity. By representing more than 35% of global alloy production in 2004, and being the world’s largest Mn ore importer, however, China must be involved in the industry’s international dialogue.
Because China has become a crucial industry player, the IMnI has made reaching out to Chinese producers and encouraging them to join its ranks, one of its core objectives.
In 2001, the IMnI began making plans to hold its 2002 Annual Conference in Shanghai, PRC., partnering with the Chinese Ferro-Alloy Industry Association to ensure strong participation from the Chinese producers. The conference was groundbreaking in that more than 80 Chinese industry players attended. But more importantly, it opened a dialogue that led a groundswell of exchanges and new membership from China.
The Marketing & Communications Sub-Committee, led by Greg Forbes, invited IMnI’s Chinese and China-based members to form their own M&C China Sub-Committee. Their goals were to promote the IMnI within China, determine how it could best address the concerns of the local industry and, eventually, develop membership there.
Their first meeting was held in Hong Kong in March 2003. By the time they held their second meeting in October of the same year, IMnI had two new members from the PRC. The “M&C China Sub”, as it is now dubbed, continues to operate successfully under the Chairmanship of Wang Feng, who regularly reports the progress his group is making to the Board. Today, IMnI has a total of 13 members from China: 10 from the PRC and 3 from Hong Kong.
At the same time, IMnI’s Electrolytic Products Division also was working to improve ties with its counterparts in China. The Institute’s EMM producer member, Manganese Metal Co., organized the International EMM Industry Sustainable Development Forum in October 2003 in Chongqing. Afterwards, EMM and EMD members joined forces, hosting their 1st IMnI EPD Seminar, in Guangzhou in May 2004. Over 80 Chinese producers showed up, including a delegation of 20 Mn metal producers, led by Tan Zhuzhong, the President of the National Friendship Association of Electrolytic Mn Metal Factories (NFAEMMF. ) After the seminar, Mr.Tan announced plans to have his association join the IMnI. Secretary General Anne Tremblay met with him again in Paris in November 2004 to further discuss how best to go forward. A second EPD Seminar will take place in Guangzhou on March 16, 2005.
Conscious that the IMnI needed to establish a better working relationship with its Chinese membership, the Board opted to hire a Chinese China-based representative in 2005, thus reinforcing its commitment to developing strong and long-term ties with China’s manganese players.